Despite a sad and rainy growing season this year, I nevertheless did manage a small haul from my garden.  For the second year in a row though, my tomatoes failed me.  They got The Blight.  Next year, I’m growing them somewhere else, like in containers on the deck, or maybe just never again.  Phooey on tomatoes.  The peppers were a nice yield though!

Last weekend I also managed to harvest a lot of information on dog handling and behaviour.  I went to a working clinic through my job with Brenda Aloff on reactive dogs.  The working spot we had was for a shelter dog, but we have no reactive dogs in our shelter currently, so we instead decided to bring Spring, since she is at least a foster dog (ahem SHUTUP ahem).  TWooie would have been a very good candidate for this clinic, given that he is infected with a canine version of tomato blight called ROTTEN GODDAMN DOG, but Spring turned out to be a surprisingly good partner in our exercises.

I won’t bore you with the minutiae of Brenda’s “Get Connected” program (not that it’s boring in any way – and I will encourage you to purchase her book and DVD by the same name) but I do want to tell you all how impressed I was with Brenda and her program.  I mean, you kind of HAVE to be impressed with anyone who can and has lived with upwards of 10 terriers at a time (in my religion, that’s called “Hell”) in relative peace.  But mostly what impressed me was how much sense her exercises and the motivation behind them made … to me, anyway.

I think Brenda falls into the category that my more positive friends / trainers would call “balance training” in that she is not purely positive and does use hands-on restraint (though not physical correction as such) and more than just operant conditioning to make a point with the dog.  For me, this makes a lot of sense – body language and body pressure are very useful in getting across to the dog what you want from them.  And for someone like me, who has a quick temper and low tolerance for frustration when training (insert sad face here – it’s something I work on all the time!) having the tools in my training kit to help me do something, rather than wait for the dog to think it up, are really helpful in keeping me calm.

On day two of the clinic, in our third working session, Miss Spring “No Impulse Control”Aling  sat in front of me and maintained beautiful eye contact with me without moving a muscle for a prolonged period of time, while Brenda walked around us in circles gently swinging a looped length of climbing rope at and on us.  Had you suggested this possibility to me last week, I would have peed my pants laughing at you (and then probably gotten mad at you for making me pee my pants).

In short – I really liked her style and I really recommend her program.  If you get a chance to go to a clinic with her, or better yet you happen to be in Michigan and can work with her regularly, you should jump on that chance!

When we went back to work on Monday, I let Spring indulge in one of her favourite pastimes as a reward for all her hard work all weekend.

That’s one of our shelter kittens, Nickle, having a cuddle with Springaling behind the reception desk.  Nickle likes to wander around the shelter and Spring likes Nickle, who is a very cool kitten.  Probably you should adopt her.  Nickle I mean.  Hands off Spring, you rotten bastids!

(Sorry for the poor quality – it’s from my iPhone).

I’ve been using some of what I learned at the clinic to make some changes in Casa de Food Lady.  The biggest challenge we have at home right now is Dexter VS TWooie, a UFC style smackdown that has been progressively getting more intense.

It’s not my fault.  Ummm … is he staring at me again?

I’m not staring at him, I’m mentally KICKING HIS ASS.

Really, both of them are at fault – they walk around the house sneering and growling at one another and the only reason they don’t erupt into fighting is because Dexter won’t fight, bless him.  But the bad juju in the house is getting pretty old.  So we’ve been working on some exercises to put an end to and redirect their obsession with one another and it’s fairly successful.  And it has side benefits – last night in class, Dexter spontaneously started demonstrating a sensitivity to body motion cues that had been previously lacking in our agility relationship.  He was so responsive that I actually (and accidentally) pulled him off a straight line of jumps by moving ever so slightly to the side, something that has never happened before (prior to this, Dex would have happily kept going down the line of jumps, and then jumped, like, a spectator and a car in the parking lot or something before he noticed me at all).

If you don’t stop talking about this trainer lady, I’m leaving.

Alright, alright Tweed.  Sorry.

Aside from harvesting vegetables from my dying garden and getting all excited about dog training again, I haven’t done much this week.  I had forgotten how exhausting it is to work full time, especially with my killer commute.  By the time I have gotten home and exercised the dogs, all I want to do is sit in front of my computer and mindlessly play Zuma Blitz until bed time – or something else that requires no real thought process / mental energy.

So left to their own devices, the dogs think up their own ways to have fun.

Or at least TWooie is having fun … albeit in a highly sexualized and inappropriate fashion.  I am pretty sure that his brother is not having very much fun at all when he gets enthusiastically humped by his sibling!

But you know what they say … if two’s company, three is a menage et trois!

Poor Woo, always the victim.

Lucky for him, Spring has almost no attention span whatsoever, so before long she leaves the amorous couple to their dirty games and is off hunting field mice.  Which makes for nice photo ops :)

This makes Dexter angry, as he feels I should be throwing his Dumbball, not taking photos of Spring.

But I did throw it Dexter!  I threw it for Piper just a moment ago. Surely she’s on it.  No flies on my girlie!

Oops.  Scratch that.


  1. Hahaha love that pic of Spring running (or jumping?) She looks like she’s planking =)

  2. Looks like Woo is enjoying the humping to me!

  3. Love the photo of Spring and Nickle. So sweet!

  4. LOVE the pic of Spring and Nickle – OMG she soooo cute!!!

  5. AND she cuddles with kittens? How is this not the perfect dog!

    Love the “boing” shots. Is that a terrier thing? Emma used to go “boinging” around the yard chasing crickets when she was younger. :-)

  6. Make sure you burn or bury the blighted tomato plants so the blight doesn’t hang around, and next year try them in pots. You may find they need some feeding and a bit more watering, but I’ve always had better luck with them in pots on the patio than in the ground – using “store bought” dirt combined with some excellent, well-aged horse manure from a kind horsey friend, and a bit of peat moss on top to conserve water. Don’t know if it’ll work for everyone, but it does well for me.

    That airborne picture of Spring is wonderful. Thanks for the info about the trainer, it sounds like a really interesting workshop.

  7. Glad you liked Brenda Aloff and found her helpful. I found her ego got in the way of her message in her book “Aggression in Dogs” and in a DVD on the same subject – maybe she has mellowed. I would love to hear what changes you made that affected Dexter and if they also affected Twooie – who is certainly a harder case. Great pics , as always. Can’t wait for the next “family” pic to see if it contains Spring. :-)

  8. The Food Lady says:

    Isn’t that interesting – I actually found her incredibly personable, and a genuine dog lover. I quite liked her, and didn’t really feel she had a lot of ego, but a lot of confidence. And of necessity, since she’s marketing a program, a bit of a purist about her ‘product.’ What I liked most about her clinic was that she allowed no “my dog” questions or stories during her seminars. What a relief not to have to listen to other people rabble on about their dogs. They should get blogs ;-)

    But I know what you mean – I feel the way you do, but about Jean Donaldson. I couldn’t even read all of The Culture Clash because her attitude distracted me from everything she had to say!

  9. You don’t by any chance have walnut trees, do you? I lived in a rental surrounded by walnuts for a while, and learned that they give off some sort of chemical that keeps tomato plants from growing, flowering, and bearing fruit.

  10. I share your feelings about Jean Donaldson – I can read her but I can’t watch her. And she just keeps getting worse.

    Major brownie points to Aloff for not allowing “my dog” stories during her seminars. I wish all speakers would do the same – even if it means I can’t can’t ask “my dog” question.

  11. I so wish I could take Spring off your hands. She’s such an adorable bouncer!

    Gonna go run my terrier girl round the jumps a bit…

  12. I am going to look into the training book/video. Some of the girls in my pack are driving me crazy with their touchiness. If one of the others looks at them wrong it might start a fight and I’m tired! Thanks for the info.

    Loved the pic of Spring springing!!

  13. Other Becky says:

    I’ve always had really good luck with tomatoes in pots, although they do need more watering. ‘Round these parts, they also need a bit of calcium, or else they develop blossom end rot (the fruit starts rotting from the bottom up). Juliets tend to grow really well in containers, if you’re looking for a specific type. (Mine is trying to take over the world, or at least the front yard.)

  14. That shot of Spring and Nickie is too sweet, FL. Spring looks so guilty, like she’s been caught chewing a favourite shoe. “How can such love be so wrong?!” Glad she (and the rest of the crew) are doing well, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about the training techniques for inter-dog household aggression. We get a few cases of the snarlies at home, usually over Jake’s food. Combined with his sensitive digestive tract, the only way we can get him to eat without giving himself a couple of days’ worth of bowel trouble is to put him outside on the step with his bowl raised up and him on the ground. But he’s still got defensive food issues. Maybe with so many dogs they all want Food Lady love?

  15. Well, I dropped off an application for Nickel. We’ll see!

  16. This year the only crop I did get was … tomatoes. smug grin.
    All because I have a greenhouse. When I gardened in an allotment, the only folks who managed to get tomatoes (the old Italian & Portuguese gardeners) had plastic row coverings on them. There are a couple blight resistant varieties but honestly, they need to be under cover in Vancouver.

    I’m jealous you got to hear Aloff & watch her demo. I bought the Getting Connected book & dvd right when it came out, have read it through several times & I Oh, I think I get it when I read it, I’m nodding my head & thinking ok, yeah. And then I can’t figure out WHAT I’m supposed to actually do with the dogs.

    Control Unleashed was so much better for me b/e it spelled it out. This week do this, this week work on this & this… Aloff has, I suspect, some great stuff in there but my brain just can’t wrap around it…. Maybe I’ll read & watch it again….

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